Supersonics Officially Eliminated from Playoff Contentionby Kent Clark | April 9, 2017, 7:13 PM ET
After a 2-1 overtime loss to the Vancouver Vipers on Saturday, the Edmonton Supersonics were officially eliminated from playoff contention for only the second time in franchise history.
It was a tale of two seasons. After an abysmal 6-19-4 run to kick-off the season, new head coach Todd McLellan's tenure did not begin as planned, and rumors on team message boards were calling for former head coach and current assistant to the general manager Craig MacTavish to be re-instated.
But starting with a February 13th win vs. the Kansas City Krunch, everything seemed to click.
The Sonics have been 21-6-5 since mid-February, including a 12-0-2 run. Truly, the Sonics have been among the hottest teams since their turnaround, and were pushing for the final playoff spot.
The trade deadline posed an interesting question for GM Mike Franceschini: determine which direction to take the franchise. All three options were considered: holding the course and believing in what was at that point the hottest team in the league; accepting the lost season and trading off valuable assets for the future; and even defying the odds and adding a piece or two to make a puch for the post-season.
In the end, Franceschini opted for the risky (read: indecisive) "rebuild on the fly" strategy: trade off one piece that the team could hopefuly absorb losing now while acquiring an asset for the future. In the end, it was long-time Sonic Paul Stastny sent to the Dublin Shamrocks in exchange for a first round draft pick in 2018.
"It was sad to see Paul go," said Franceschini, "but Dublin is building something for next season and hopefully he'll have the opportunity to win another Cup there. We have three first round picks in 2018 now and we're hoping that that will help us long term."
Ultimately, Franceschini's decision may have cost the Sonics their playoff spot, accumulating a 9-5-3 record since the deadline. Still a decent run by anyone's measure, but not enough to dig out of the hole they dug themselves into to start the season.
"We've got a veteran team, and we have to take responsibilty for our play at the beginning of the season," said alternate captain Andrew Ladd. "As good as we played down the stretch, it ultimately proved to be too little, too late. We have to own that."
As for what the off-season will bring, Franceschini is holding his cards to his chest. There will be plenty of opportunity to talk trade at the 2017 SICHL Super Summit and Live Draft™ in Edmonton in August, but whether he'll be a buyer or a seller remains unclear.
Said Franceschini: "I think we've always been a team that wants to compete, and give our fans an honest effort every night."
Goaltender Andrey Makarov has been recalled from Siberia.